Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Blame Game

Ah, there we go again. Last summer when England bowed out of the World Cup with a whimper, everyone starts pointing fingers in all direction except at themselves and how bad things has degraded to this point where everyone hits the panic button when England lost to Spain in a friendly. Yes, a friendly game.

I'm never a supporter of these sort of friendlies because they're just a waste of time and it's purely for the FA to make more bucks so that they can waste it on some inept manager they're going to appoint in the future. Even while I'm typing, it's infuriating to know that Mr. Eriksson is still earning more than most of us do in a year, or years by just sipping lemonade by the beach.

What good can friendlies do to a team that only meet up once a month and in England's case, it's like some social club monthly meeting where old friends get to meet up. Then go on to put up some really abject performance and gets slated by the press and people like us once a month. It's a joke.

So, Al-Tel, Terry Venables came out and blasted the 'major' clubs for ruining England's chances and harming the team. Does that sound like anything more than an excuse to you? Well look, logic prevails and if the English talents are not good enough, then surely they're going to be behind the pack!

He picked on Arsenal for their love of Africans and European players. Just not English. And does it really takes a rocket scientist to work out why? It's simple. Would you rather pay an odd 300k for a Spanish youngster like Cesc Fabregas (Spanish) or a mind boggling 18 million for Mr. Carrick (English) at United who looked half the player Cesc is, was and will be. See the difference? For English talents, you've to pay over the odds.

As a club, millions are at stake and the manager have to make sure the players are of the highest quality and are able to put up decent performance consistently. Youth players are especially important as they're the future of the club. They're groomed and nurtured into future superstars at young age. So is there really something going amiss within the youth academy in England?

You can be sure of it when you see the likes of Sir Alex coming out to defend Arsene Wenger. He mentioned Howard Wilkinson's 10 years plan which is to succeed and bring the World Cup back to England but sadly, it looked remotely possible with this bunch. It's into the 8th year by the way.

In football, nationality should not be a concern. Although it is important to keep the core of the team close to the homeland, the teams should not stop nurturing future talents because it is not of any advantage to the nation the club belongs. We all love to see the likes of Fabregas and Ronaldo coming through although they're just passer-bys from the other side of the world. Admit it, globalisation is under way and football is in transition as well. Know no boundaries.

Looking at the Arsenal team that played Bolton on Wednesday, you've got to applaud Wenger and his doctrine of bringing up young players and brooding them into future superstars. Seeing how these bunch get bullied off the park by Bolton earlier, you've got to feel that we've finally seen another generation of Arsenal. For neutrals, it's great of course.

We know Rafa's doing that as well. He reformed the scouting network and he's bringing in quality South Americans and Spanish into the fray so that we won't have to worry about the future of Liverpool 5 to 10 years down the road because we already have a group of ready made youngsters ready to step up.

Looking at Liverpool's U18 squad makes me proud as well. They're currently on the way of defending the FA Youth Cup and they looked like a proper good team. How many of them will actually make it and don the famous red jersey, we'll not know. But I'm sure Rafa will give them a chance in the future.

Youth development is an important aspect in football but by trying to force teams to place their emphasis on a certain nation's youth for 'balance' is going to set the development back for a few years. Fat Sam ironically came out to say the youths of today are 'fat and lazy'. Well, not without prove. Just look at the recent report on how England's youth are one of the worst among the rich nations.

Youth academy's motto should always be 'foreigners or not, as long as you're good enough, you'll be welcomed'.

Friday, February 16, 2007

We'll Beat Barca

Because my good ol' Footie Manager told me so...

Well, maybe 1-0. Since the rest of the scorers are not Liverpool players. Still, I'm quietly confident we'll be able to get through the next stage. Barca what?

No VIlla, Then...

Valencia star David Villa admits he's a regular at Liverpool - but insists he has no plans of joining the Reds' American revolution.

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez plans to use the cash of new co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett to prise Villa away from Los Che and the striker says: "Pepe Reina and I are good friends from our time together with Spain U21.

"I often go to England to see him and he comes here. But I am happy in Spain. My people, my language. It seems funny to say in 2007, but I don't have an ambition to play abroad."

Asked about Real Madrid's interest, Villa scoffed: "It seems they want to sign everyone! They have some champions, but they're going through a bad time."

Well, you can just say he's unambitious...

Er, WTF?

Something to do with philosophy. Not so sure but it looks to me like how the Greeks won the Euro 2004. Bored everyone to tears and then hit the opponents on the break!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Why Ladies Shouldn't Go To Football Matches

Credits to SG Gooner for spotting this advertisement.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Don't Take The Right To Celebrate Away

I was shocked to see this:

Fifa are poised for another crackdown on goal celebrations next season. (Various)

Since when did FIFA have the right to take away human's expression of pure joy and jubilation? Are footballers supposed to walk away wth no expression after scoring the most dramatic equaliser in football history?

To me, there are many things on the pitch itself that needs the attention of FIFA more than how Wayne Rooney cups his ears or Gary Neville doing the sex-wee in front of the fans. Football is a game of passion and adrenaline. In the heat of moment, things happen, foul language spilled and emotions poured fourth. Are the players supposed to contain all of them because they're not allowed to? Load of b*llocks there.

Even though they're paid like supreme beings, they're still human beings after all. It's a natural reaction of humans to celebrate, scream and shout when they are being hit by the emotional rollercoaster.

No matter what happens, FIFA can't take away the emotions of human away. We'll all continue to be passionate. I can think of better ways for them to improve the game and if you're interested, then mail me. I'll assign task for you.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Should We Go For Eto'o?

I know, moneybags and all. We've just been taken over by the Americans and Rafa will have some quids to spend. Now it seemed like fans like us are making sure we sound like kids going on a Christmas shopping.

Why Eto'o, you ask. If you're not aware, he seemed to have fallen out with Frank Rijkaard again and it's of course, not the first time the Cameroon international got himself on the Dutchman's bad books.

What happened was during Barca's 2-0 win over Racing Santander, Eto'o was supposed to make a cameo appearance late in the game. But despite Rijkaard's call for him to stop the warm up and get change for the match, he ignored and continued his warm up.

Then predictably, Rijkaard went ballistic on the national media while superstar, Ronaldinho, also came out to criticise Eto'o.

We all know what Eto'o is about and his goal scoring record is second to none in Spain as it is in Europe. When we got drawn with Barcelona in the Champions League Last 16, my worry was not Ronaldinho or Messi but instead, Eto'o was the one. He's the one that scores all the goals and a very complete player.

Due to his long lay-off, Barcelona seemed to struggle a little in the Spanish La Liga and also failed to bring the World Club Championship back to the Nou Camp. It's easy to see his impact among the team that's full of superstars and big name players.

He can be the answer to Liverpool fan's prayer for the '20 goals a season striker'. He's pretty similar to Michael Owen in some ways with pace to burn and also the power. His finishing quality is unquestionable but there's one thing that might detract him from being at Anfield next season.

His attitude. Rafa always buys the player that he thinks is committed to the club and the team. He doesn't like superstar players that form the nucleus of the team. He wants the team to work as one and play for the love and passion of the game instead of for money or pride.

With Eto'o's volatile attitude, it might seem unlikely that Rafa will consider the Cameroonian into his plans. He will be a very good signing and no doubt, bring quality to the side. But still, his character is questionable and there might be a inconsistency in Rafa's policy with players.

Recommended signings would be perhaps Middlesbrough's Aiyegbeni Yakubu or Ajax's Jan-Klaas Huntelaar. There might be more names but it just slipped off my mine right now. And what do you think? Share it!

Stop Asking For Opinions

Managers are appointed to manage and organise a group a players. But for England's case, it's the other way round.

England manager, Steve McClaren will reportedly hold a 'crisis meeting' with the England senior players. And the point being, to ask for opinions from the 5 'senior players' including captain, John Terry and vice captain, Steven Gerrard.

This is something that I've never heard of. A manager asking the players who they want the team to play. Well, then you could very well pick the Tom, Dicks and Harrys off the street for the England job since all you need to do is to listen to players like Lampard go on about how the team should be build around him or Rio on how be the first to celebrate the goal with his team mate although he should be in the other part of the pitch.

Questioning McClaren's decision to consult the senior players is one thing. But you've got to wonder how much power these players hold in the national team. Player power comes to mind and perhaps, some of the players are never called up despite their form down to the fact that these senior players don't recommend them to be in the manager.

Now, who's the boss?

National team players should be called up base on merits and current form. The manager will have to pick the best players and organise them to play in a system that he sees fit. I don't think a manager should go around asking players for advice as to how he should play them, the tactics and systems or perhaps even who to call up for the national team.

It might be a reason why the English team underachieved throughout the years. There isn't someone there to make sure he's the boss and he picks the team. Now it seemed like the team is full of big time charlies and giving suggestions to the boss which might be a decision that gives him the advantage.

Next point is, why are there even this band of 5 whom are branded as 'senior players'? We know they are the core of the team. But does that send out a wrong signal to them that they're undroppable or in Mourinho's term, 'Untouchables'?

Once again, you have to question whether the national team is picked base on performance or purely on their reputation.

Appointed a manager, be a manager. Pick the players and system and organise them to play them the way you want them to. The internal politics makes this sort of 'senior players' talk useless. If England wants to move on, the player power have to go. Sort it out.

Oh, Poor Javier...

West Ham goalkeeper Jimmy Walker has revealed why Javier Mascherano feels his move to Upton Park just wasn't meant to be.

Mascherano is sweating on a loan deal with Liverpool to be rubberstamped and Walker, in his column for West Ham's match programme, revealed how one day everything conspired to work against the Argie.

Walker wrote: "I have to tell you about his day from hell when his interpreter Ciaran had forgotten to tell him the team had the day off.

"Javier drove to the training ground but broke down as he had run out of petrol so he walked to the nearest petrol station but realised he had no money.

"He had to ring Ciaran and ask him to speak to the petrol station manager, but they were not having any of it and just said 'if he does not have any money he is not getting any petrol'.

"He had to walk to the training ground to borrow some money off Anton, who was in for treatment, and also discovered the team were not in. He walked back, filled the petrol can up, walked to his car put the petrol in and set off back home. Then half a mile up the road a taxi crashed into the back of him. When he was telling me about it in his broken English he finished the story by saying, 'Jimmy, I get home, I shut the curtains and I sleep'."

Drogballs: Oh dear, what a terrible day for him. Honestly speaking, he should never have joined West Ham in the first place. But who could fault him. It's the company that holds his contract that 'sold' him off.

Better luck at Liverpool, hopefully. He's a good player.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Drogballs' Weekly Thoughts

The Good Gets Better

With the exception of my beloved Liverpool, the 3 of the 'Big 4' won this weekend. United brushed a spirited Charlton aside but goal fest that's promised at Old Trafford just didn't happen.

Whereas Chelsea thrashed bogey team, Middlesbrough 3-0 at home. Reasonably simple fixture for them while Arsenal only merely managed to beat Wigan. The Latics gone ahead with Danny Landzaat's long range effort but were unable to hold on to the lead after Fitz Hall scored an own goal while Tomas Rosicky finished it off predictably.

Meanwhile, Liverpool lost at Newcastle with lady luck tucked in the heavy clouds at Tyneside. Now, they'll have to concentrate on the UEFA Champions League game against Barcelona. Away from the rainy Newcastle and down to Portugal where the sun always shine.

Bolton kept up with pace with the Champions League place after defeating Fulham 2-1 while surprise package of the season, Reading, continue their fantastic form with a dominant 2-0 win over Aston Villa. It's always nice to see the black horse doing so well.

The Poor Gets Worst

Well, always not very nice to write about this part because I personally hate to criticise teams. But honestly, Spurs and West Ham can't escape from them because to me, they're beyond poor. It's mind boggling poor. How can a team like Spurs ended up with 6 games without wins? The lost at Sheffield United caused some Tottenham fans to start questioning Martin Jol. The Spurs faithful have been pretty supportive of the Dutch coach but in recent times, the results have dipped while Jol could only watch at the sidelines.

And every week's featured team, West Ham United. I have a soft spot for them as I've mentioned but I can't help but laugh at them sometimes. Does a rich owner gives you the divine right to stay in the Premiership? No. But some players just played as if they're 'too good to go down'. Remember the last time the Hammers went down? They told themselves the same thing. And looked what happened.

Losing to Watford at Upton Park is just unbelievable. If they want to stay up, it's the most they can do to beat these so called 'inferior' teams. Looking at their run ins, it's going to be a long journey down for Alan Curbishley. United and Chelsea just weeks away.

The Hammers fan now starts to turn their anger on captain, Nigel Reo-Coker, who have been a shadow of his former self this season and to them, it's a disgrace. Players like Harewood and Zamora are fielded and prance around without much effort while committed player like Carlos Tevez was left on the bench.

Oh and, Lucas Neill. Again, I don't know whether to laugh or cry. All the best with your fat wallet.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Wasteful Reds Rues Missed Chances

Magpies Win In Error-Prone Match

English Premiership

Newcastle Utd. 2 - 1 LIVERPOOL

NEW - Martins (26min), Solano (PEN 70min);
LIV - Bellamy (6min);

They say 'the ball is round'. It's used to describe the unpredictability of football at times. And that's the reason why we all love football. It's the beauty of it.

But ironically, sometimes, it just hits you right in the face. The lost at St. James' Park is just one of those games where the Liverpool fans must be scratching their head and asking 'how on earth did we lose this game?!'

Well, answer is simple enough. We didn't score the goals. When we were presented with the chances kindly, we didn't put them in the back of the net as well. Very generous of us. Once, BIll Shankly said "Don't discuss the options. Just put the ball in the back of the net first, then we'll discuss the options later."

Very clearly, the ones donning the red jersey didn't heed the legendary manager's words. With all those chances missed, you've just got the feeling there's something more than meets the eye in the match. Well, I was right.

But Liverpool started the game brightly enough. Considering the terrible conditions at St. James' Park, it was hard to fault the teams for all the mis-placed passes and mistakes. Liverpool were the first to pounce on a mistake by Steve Harper, and Newcastle old boy, Craig Bellamy was on hand to place the ball in after Pennant's good work down the right.

Steve Harper must've been unable to sleep after getting embarrassed by Xabi Alonso on the previous game. But then he put up an excellent show afterwards to thwart everything Liverpool threw at him.

Craig Bellamy had two chances to put the game in the bed after Sissoko's through pass found him but after rounding off Harper, his shot was weak and Bramble was able to clear. Then came the second wave and this time, Bellamy got his shot off the crossbar.

That's when we're punished. We failed to finish the game off at that moment and Newcastle hit back with yet another blunder by Pepe Reina. With Martins chasing the long punt, Agger was caught out and Reina sprinted 20 yards off his line to help out with his defenders but as they say "the more the cook spoils the soup", the clearance went straight to Martins, who only had to put the ball into an unguarded net.

The game was played at a fanatic pace just like any other Liverpool-Newcastle game and the battle in the central midfield was especially fiesty, with Sissoko back in the fray and Zenden back as well.

As Liverpool continued their hit and hope long ball tactics, in hoping of Bellamy to get onto one of them, Newcastle pressed on with Kieron Dyer and Obafemi Martins causing all sorts of problems. But the breakthrough came when Steve Taylor was adjudged to have been brought down by John Arne Riise in the box.

Indeed, he was clipped.

Nolberto Solano stepped up and cooly slotted the ball past Reina, who is famous for his penalty saving skills. No luck this time, though.

But at this time, Liverpool players seemed tired after yet another mid week international friendlies and were unable to get the equaliser. Kuyt's first touch let him down at times while they just didn't put Newcastle under too much pressure. There was a surprise lack of physical presence when the Reds attack and all those hopeful punts by Dan Agger don't help either.

Perhaps, the only positive out of this game for the Reds would be the performance of young Danny Guthrie and also the return of Momo Sissoko and Bolo Zenden.

Other than that, what a screw up again. With Arsenal just behind their back and also an almost guaranteed 3 points for them tomorrow, they might have to pay for their wastefulness in front of the goal. And next, it's Barcelona at the Nou Camp.

Again, how on earth did they lose this game?!

Drogballs' Player Ratings:

Reina 5 - A terrible blunder. But was quick out of the line a couple of times

Finnan 6 - A little slow and sluggish at times
Agger 6 - Got FAR too closed to Dyer and constantly caught out by his pace
Carragher 7 - Some vital interceptions
Riise 5 - His form has dipped to new low. He didn't provide the ammunition forward as well as cover at the back

Pennant 7 - Did well for the goal and generally, positive performance
Gerrard 6 - Not imposing enough for the skipper
Sissoko 6 - Gets the ball, gives it back to the opponent. Rinse and repeat
Zenden 6 - Good shot on target. Otherwise, never seen him around

Bellamy 7 - His movement caused a lot of trouble for Bramble. Scored the goal but missed 2 others.
Kuyt 6 - Ineffective